Salomon is seriously getting into the backcountry game. They showed off new boots and apparel with backcountry DNA at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, and most impressive to me were the Q BC Lab skis. They are super light despite an impressive 114 underfoot because of a unique construction made from a poplar wood core, CFX Superfiber (carbon and flax blend) and honeycomb tip. Interestingly, they also have downhill-specific features like a full sandwich sidewall and utility rocker.
Other features include:
- Lengths: 176, 184
- Sidecut: 140/114/128 (176)
- Construction & Core: Full sandwich sidewall, Full woodcore
- Rocker: Utility rocker
- Reinforcement: CFX superfiber – dampening with lightness
- G-spot for climbing ease,
- Tech transfer pad for max edge grip with AT bindings
- Honeycomb tip
- Skin compatible tail
Intrigued, I badly wanted to take them out on the mountain. Well, I recently got that chance when I headed up to Alta and went touring as part of Salomon Quest Days. After a quick avalanche safety presentation by the always entertaining Craig Gordon of the Utah Avalanche Center, myself, along with Jamey Parks and other media sorts hopped on the Collins Lift with next season’s Salomon skis on our feet. Lucky for me, I scored one of the few pairs of Q BC Lab skis.
The first test came after we got off Collins and made our way over to the Supreme lift. The snow was choppy but soft, and the skis easily got me from point A to point B. But they did get a little squirrely on the hard pack due to them being so freaking light. In fact, they felt so non-existent, it was like I was wearing roller skates instead of skis. Clearly, these are not built for charging the resort.
After riding Supreme, we traversed into the Catherine Pass backcountry and booted up to the top of Point Supreme. Once there, Craig Gordon gave us excellent info about safe backcountry travel, terrain management and group communication. Below us was a practically untouched field of powder. When we were all salivating to shred, one-by-one, we dropped in.
As soon as I made my first turn, I fell in love with the Q BC Lab. The rocker tips let me float without having to lean back on my tails, and the camber popped me out on every turn. These skis are springy and fun, gobbling up powder like it’s made of bacon. First, I made quick turns and found them to be agile and nimble. As I gained momentum, I opened them up and tried fast, sweeping turns. The skis transitioned flawlessly and felt super stable no matter how fast I revved them up. Basically, the Salomon Q BC Lab are easy skiing. There’s nothing to figure out… they just work and do what you tell them to do.
Of course, in powder conditions, just about any ski can be fun. But these are backcountry specific, so how do they handle the up? Well, our next destination was Rocky Point. With skins on and boots in walk mode, we switchbacked up to the ridge and over to the next peak. I’m very impressed at how well these skis tour. They are super light weight, are easy to kick around on switchbacks, and my legs never got fatigued all day. This is a huge step for Salomon’s foray into the backcountry.
Rocky Point served up more untouched powder, which the skis gobbled up once again. Wanting a bit more of a challenge, we skinned to the top of Tuscarora, parted ways with half the group, and poked around for a way into Wolverine Cirque. We decided on The Scythe. This long, tight, dog-leg couloir would be perfect to test the skis’ technical ability in steep terrain. At the top, the snow was windblown and hard. I dropped in gingerly and skidded to a stop below a large wind lip. Carefully, I made a few jump turns to test out the skis, and soon found complete confidence in them. The sidewall construction, sidecut and bit of camber allowed the skis to bite into the hard stuff, giving them total edge grip… unusual for a ski that’s 114 underfoot.
Once past the technical section, we ripped turns down the apron, skied another tight cute below, and skinned up to Twin Lakes Pass where one more run down Grizzly Gulch put us back at Alta. All along the way, I sure had fun on the Salomon Q BC Lab skis. They are not only fun, but also have enough features to keep any backcountry purist happy as a clam. I’d say these babies are the ideal Wasatch mountaineering technicians – they can slay pow on deep days equally as well as they slice through spooky, icy steeps in exposed, no-fall zones.
The Salomon Q BC Lab will be available this fall for the 2014/15 ski season and will retail for $899.